Dwarf pussy willow bonsai

If you’re looking for a new species develop as small bonsai, dwarf pussy willow may be a good option.

Procumbent, small leaved varieties grow slowly but are easy to work with. The charm of the trees are the catkins they produce in spring.

Young dwarf pussy willowYoung dwarf pussy willow

Cutting-grown willow

Pussy willow catkinsPussy willow catkins

Pussy willow catkins

Some weeping cultivars prefer to send new shoots from the base of the trunk instead of developing a central leader. If this is the case, frequent pruning of these shoots is required to develop a central leader.

Shoots low on the trunkShoots low on the trunk

New shoots growing from the base of the trunk

As dwarf willows age and develop more of a trunk, they are less likely to produce these low shoots and instead produce good branch growth.

I’ve been working with cutting-grown willows for the past 15-20 years. They were mostly neglected for half of those years, but they respond well to standard deciduous care consisting of fall pruning and trimming of long shoots when they appear.

Fall colorFall color

Fall color on dwarf pussy willow

Most of the shoots on this tree developed in the past year. When the leaves turn color, I prune to several healthy buds per branch.

After removing leavesAfter removing leaves

After removing the leaves

Dwarf pussy willow bonsaiDwarf pussy willow bonsai

After cutback – 6″

Left sideLeft side

Left side

One thing I’ve learned to watch out for with the species I’m working with is that large wounds don’t heal over. I don’t know if this is characteristic of willow in general or if the tree just needs to be growing more vigorously to produce ample callus for healing wounds. As a result, I avoid letting branches get too large before removing them.

Do you have experience with pussy willow bonsai? Let us know if you have suggestions for working with them or if you can identify the above species – I’d love to know what kind of willow this is!

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